Professor Darren Kew, executive director of the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development (CPDD) at UMass Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, will join the international delegation to observe Nigeria’s presidential election at the invitation of Washington, D.C. nonprofit, nonpartisan National Democratic Institute.
He joins a group of approximately 20 political and civic leaders, election experts, and regional specialists to offer impartial observation of the elections in order to enhance voter confidence and to show solidarity with the people of Nigeria.
The 2015 polls are regarded as the most competitive general elections since Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999, and will be held amidst growing insecurity posed by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in several northern states.
“Nigeria stands on the verge of a major democratic milestone, but the stakes are so high that supporters of both sides may resort to violence and foul play,” Professor Kew says.
Originally scheduled for February 14, the elections have been delayed until March 28 due to the violence and threats posed by militants. Sunday’s New York Times quoted Professor Kew’s concerns about the delay: “This is a sign of panic on the part of supporters of the president and the ruling party. The real reason behind it is the opposition is surging right now.”
Darren Kew is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance. His work concentrates on civil society development and conflict resolution in Africa, especially Nigeria. In 2014, Professor Kew emerged as a leading national expert on the Boko Haram kidnappings and was interviewed by various media outlets.
Kew and the CPDD have a long-standing relationship with the Interfaith Mediation Centre in Kaduna, Nigeria, which works to bridge the Muslim-Christian divide.